Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pu'u Loa petroglyphs

This photo is very typical of the number, size and variety of the petroglyphs at this site near the bottom of Chain of Craters Road. And yet, there are strange elements: the straight line with the sidebars in the bottom of the picture, the “sail” in the middle of the picture, and the “star” pattern beyond. What is typical is the number of piko holes—the circles with the holes are said to represent boys, a crescent represents a girl. Not all holes have a gender determiner. It is said that the father took the umbilical cord out to this site, make a petroglyph to honor his child, put the umbilical cord in the hole and left. When he returned days later, if the umbilical cord was gone, it meant the gods accepted the child and it would live. Maybe the father only made the sign of the boy or girl when it was determined the child would live. (That is purely speculation on my part….)

This rock outcropping caught my eye from afar—it is not “on the beaten trail” and neither was I. What astounds me about this imagine is the red on the rock—that seemingly bleeds through from the molten lava. I also love the idea of this ledge of pahoehoe lava just stopping at this particular place and forming a perfect canvas.

Several of the human images had a circle above or near the head.

These “twins” stand out—they are carved deep into the lava, surrounded by other human figures and many, many piko holes and circles.

This image haunts me because I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else. It is off by itself, along a pahoehoe tongue. The lava just to the right is rippled, but this one spot made a perfect place to carve.

Another typical section of petroglyphs at this site. Since I had seen the encompassing circle around some of the petroglyphs at another site and noted it for the first time, I was surprised—and pleased—to note it again. At this site there were also several circles that were connected, forming “handcuffs”. There are two examples in this photo.

Three human figures, all with their arms in the “down” position, but arms curved, not like the stick arms at other sites. Only one man has a piko hole in his chest.

This “rose” was another one off the beaten path. As I was leaving, I walked slow and kept looking around for other images. I was not disappointed. This one is up on the top of a low ridge. As soon as I spied it up there, I had to find a way to scramble up and photograph it—quite unusual.

I drove up to Volcanoes National Park, wondering all the way if I should turn around and bag the day—the weather was sketchy at best, and the weather report said “40% chance of rain and/ or thunderstorms.” I figured that I had a couple of hours midday that I might find some decent weather, so I kept driving through the mist at the 2,000 foot level. Even on the way down the other side of the ridge--on the dry side--I had my doubts. The rain forest, of course, was rainy—and windy, and I thought many times about turning around and eating my sandwich somewhere else, but, something kept pulling me on. Down on the plain near the ocean the weather was cloudy but not raining. I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water and headed out. Photographed as fast as I could, knowing my time out there would be limited. After about an hour I got sprinkled on and I had to stop and beg the gods for just a little more time, please... They relented and stopped the rain…but as I looked over my shoulder into the wind, I knew I had to work fast--I would not be granted much more time because Mother Nature had work to do. This is the path on the way back to the car—the mist was, literally, chasing me. I threw my camera in the car, talked to some tourists who were headed out to the field, then got in the car. Just as I shut the door, the rain pelted the windshield and I thanked my lucky stars.

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